REVIEW: ‘Wonder Woman’ refreshes superhero origin story with stellar writing and directing

Gal Gadot in Wonder Woman (2017)

Ray Padilla

Let me be upfront and say I am probably biased when it comes to any DC Comics movie. I grew up with the comics, and I still buy them every single week, even though my bank account keeps telling me not to. I’m in line for the first showing of any DC film, but I will never attend a Marvel movie. Sorry.

That being said, “Wonder Woman” was fantastic. Gal Gadot captures Diana Prince, a woman who tries her best to understand the world of humans with chaos and war after living on the island of paradise, Themyscira. Even in the new DC Rebirth comics, it’s apparent she is still learning in the world of man.

Starting with the beginning of the movie, we are back in present day in what seems to be right after last year’s DC offerings “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Suicide Squad,” when Diana is forced to remember a past she’s been hoping to forget.

Jumping into her origin story, we saw from the trailers that Robin Wright plays her mentor, Antiope. Ever since I saw Wright as Claire Underwood in the Netflix original series “House of Cards,” I knew she was able to play a strong, independent woman. Here, more screen time for her would be much appreciated.

Set in the era of World War I, starting in London, the film plays with gender stereotypes as Diana focuses on stopping the war, while others aim to suppress her. Lucy Davis is a scene stealer as secretary to Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor, providing comedic relief.

Some of the suggestive humor involving Trevor began to push the film’s PG-13 rating. There was a time during the movie where everyone started laughing at a sexual reference and, seriously, someone’s kid asked, “What’s that mean?” when the laughter subsided. I laughed more in that moment than the scripted dialogue. With a superhero summer movie like “Wonder Woman,” many children will be in the audience and likely in need of a birds-and-bees conversation afterward. Or maybe the action scenes will make them forget the mature humor.

Moving on to the cinematography, it could have been seriously improved. Whenever Diana flies through the air and uses her lasso, it seems as though it’s a half-animated, half-live action sequence. The visual effects seemed to take a step back from previous DC flicks. Slow motion effects looked amazing and badass but were used way too often. It seemed like every fight had slow motion, probably adding what seems like 10 or 20 more minutes to the run time.

On the other hand, a lot of time and research must have went into the costume design. It was spot on, and Diana’s costume and hood to hide her secret identity were wardrobe highlights. The moment she first stepped out to battle in the war, there was this sense of power coming from her. Let’s be honest — I wish I was Wonder Woman in that moment.

A lot of the strong moments were orchestrated by director Patty Jenkins. Being a female director with a strong female character, her Wonder Woman is a role model to anyone and everyone, and she accomplished that goal. Jenkins successfully made a movie where a female superhero was not just eye candy but a goddess and strong as hell.

Grade: B

Ray Padilla is the Digital Director, contact him at [email protected].